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Millennials Need Your Help, Not Your Boomering Insults

The insurance industry has consistently been confounded by how to reach the millennial generation.

Consisting of those born (roughly) between the mid-1980s and the late 1990s, this is the generation that grew up just as the internet was exploding on the scene. It’s also a generation that’s highly skeptical of many of the traditional business tactics the insurance industry employs.

Part of the difficulty with selling insurance to millennials has to do with this generation’s very real feelings of financial insecurity.

A recent Wall Street Journal article points out that millennials are behind in key areas versus previous generations, such as income, homeownership and starting families. Because the generation came into adulthood just as the economy turned south from the housing market crash, many millennials feel financially insecure.

That financial insecurity ultimately leads to less spending on anything that may seem unnecessary in the short term, especially insurance products.

Still, it’s possible to get millennials to understand the value of insurance products, or the need for secure retirement planning. There are simple, non-intrusive ways to approach millennials on why certain insurance products and financial planning are necessary, and to help them understand how such purchases can be made affordable.

Understanding Millennials Helps

It would be a big mistake to underestimate the maturity and skepticism of the millennial generation. Note that millennials are often aware of how much their generation has been maligned. There’s a near-constant barrage of news articles about everything millennials are killing, millennial self-entitlement or millennials’ over-sensitivity.

What rarely gets attention, however, are the positive news articles that point to the fact that people in their 20s and 30s actually work hard, save their money well and are incredibly complex, positive and open to change.

These positive factors are something to take to heart before interacting with millennial prospects and can be used as a starting point for conversation. Millennials are distinctly interested in financial planning and retirement, and many may not realize the cost and cost-saving benefits of life insurance and health insurance.

You can broach the subject of insurance products with millennial prospects based on an assumption that they understand money and its value. Many are also open to and willing to accept the idea that insurance and retirement savings are valuable but may not believe their financial situation makes such financial decisions possible.

Product Focus More Realistic

With millennials delaying marriage longer, buying houses later (if at all) and having fewer kids, you will need to change your product focus.
For example, single millennials will have a hard time seeing the value in many life insurance products. However, many millennials have an immense sense of social responsibility. You might find that millennials are interested in charitable giving riders, which pay an additional small percentage of the policy’s amount to charity.

You’ll also want to put more emphasis on lower-cost term life insurance products over whole life policies. Many people in their 20s and 30s may not realize that the monthly cost for a life insurance policy can be as little as $23 per month.  
As a general rule, no matter the investment area, target your products and your sales strategies to your customer. 

Talk To Them, Not At Them

The millennial generation has developed a very strong dislike and distrust of corporations, big businesses and traditional sales tactics. That skepticism makes millennials difficult to sell to, especially for insurance agents.

It’s not impossible, however, particularly because millennials vastly appreciate agents who talk to them as a person and appear approachable. That may mean ditching any scripted sales pitches you’ve used in the past, and re-inventing the way you talk about insurance products or retirement investments and savings.

Consider This Approach

When you hit a Google search to look for information, what articles do you find to be the most trustworthy? You’ll most likely trust those articles that get right to the point, discuss a topic conversationally and offer practical advice without making a sales pitch — instead of focusing on what’s known as the “call to action.”

This approach works when trying to interact with millennials for insurance, as well. Instead of selling, be informational. Instead of trying to instruct them about the value of insurance or investments, have a conversation. Don’t deliver the sales pitch until you feel the prospect is interested. And when you do deliver it, don’t be aggressive. Millennial clients need to feel comfortable with the decision, and too much pressure means they’ll be quick to walk.

Here are a few examples of phrases you might use for this conversational style:

  • “Tell me about yourself."
  • “Let me tell you about myself.”
  • “What aspects of your life make you feel the most insecure? Which make you feel secure?”
  • “What would you change about the insurance market or industry?”
  • “How do you feel, or what do you know about insurance (or investments)?”

Absolutely avoid phrases such as, “When I was your age.” These can appear condescending, and it’s important to remember that millennials are adults. Additionally, avoid trying to throw trendy slang into your conversation. Millennials seek agents who interact with them authentically, and a forced approach may have a negative impact.

Focus On Financial Security And Affordability

Knowing that many millennials work hard but often feel financially behind, it’s important to focus on financial sustainability with millennial clients.

They’re often quick to spend money on experiences and products, but extremely hesitant to spend money on something that’s seemingly intangible. However, security is important to them, so you’ll need to help them understand two key things:

  1. The value that insurance and investments bring to financial security.
  2. How such products can be made affordable at different income levels.

You’ll want to approach these areas with some sensitivity.

Don’t be afraid to directly discuss income with potential millennial clients, but be conversational and understanding. Most are open to sharing  their financial status and financial insecurities, but many feel trapped by them. Navigating that insecurity with them can help them see the benefit in insurance products, especially if you find a way to focus on affordability with a cost-benefit analysis.

Ditch The Phone Calls

The fact that millennials are digital natives is important to remember. Many rely on technology and prefer digital methods of interaction.

A recent article in Forbes said that millennials, more than any other generation before them, strongly dislike phone calls. If your communication fallback has been phone calls, it’s probably time to change. Switch to LinkedIn or other social media messaging, text messages or even email. You can use any of these communication methods to make yourself more accessible to millennial clients, and more approachable.

Maxime Rieman Croll is product manager at ValuePenguin. Maxime may be contacted at [email protected] [email protected].

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